Co-op Group raises £1.5m for community foundations

The pot was raised through sales of the Co-op Group’s summer picnic range

The Co-op Group is giving £1.5m in grants to community foundations across the UK. The retailer is now accepting applications from food banks, volunteer centres, food delivery services and organisations providing outreach services for those at risk of isolation.

The pot was raised through sales of the Co-op Group’s summer picnic range, with the retailer pledging to donate 20p from sales of its three-for-two picnic offer to the National Emergencies Trust (NET). The funding will be distributed by 46 Community Foundations across the UK, who will award grants to local organisations.

Rebecca Birkbeck, director of community and shared value at the Co-op Group, said: “It’s heartbreaking to think of families and children in the UK going hungry and facing such acute challenges during this unprecedented time. The need faced by many families is only growing and we continue to do all we can to support the most vulnerable to gain access to the food they need. Our co-operation with NET and UK Community Foundations means this funding can quickly go to work. Focusing on what really matters in local communities and providing direct support to those who most need it to make a difference to their health and wellbeing.”

The National Emergencies Trust was set up to collaborate with charities, corporates and the public to raise and distribute money as efficiently as possible. Mhairi Sharp, interim CEO at NET said the organisation’s partnership with the Co-op Group and the UK Community Foundations “reflects what can be achieved by a truly collaborative effort,” adding: “With the pandemic continuing to pose significant challenges to families and individuals across the UK, we’re delighted that an impressive £1.5m has been raised and will be distributed across grassroots organisations during the winter months.”

Rosemary Macdonald, CEO at UK Community Foundations highlighted how existing food poverty has been compounded by the pandemic. “We’ve seen huge demand for the services of local charities and community organisations that can provide relief to people struggling to access food,” she said. “As we enter the winter months this situation will get worse for many. Using the expert local knowledge of our network of community foundations we will ensure that the money raised by our partners will go the local organisations best placed to support the people and communities affected by food poverty.”

Local organisations have until Friday, 13, November to apply to the Community Foundations for funding, with grants ranging from £2,000 to £10,000. More information on how to apply is available at:

The Group will also be using its Christmas food offering to raise funds to support charities working to improve mental wellbeing. It has pledged to donate a total of £50,000 from sales of its charity Christmas sandwiches, which along with sales of Co-op’s charity Christmas card range will see a total of £80,000 go to MIND, the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and Inspire.

Breige Donaghy, director of delicious food at the Group, said: “With one in four people experiencing mental health issues each year, we’re proud to be supporting Mind, SAMH and Inspire through sales of our Christmas sandwiches and Christmas cards this year. The proceeds will help support the valuable work these charities are undertaking to bring communities together and support people struggling with their mental health.”